Social Role Participation and Mental Health: Does Race/Ethnicity Matter?

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 18:06
Oral Presentation
Pamela JACKSON, Indiana University, USA
Christy ERVING, Co-author, USA
The relationship between social role participation and mental health varies substantially among U.S. minorities. We propose to explore this association using the most contemporary and comprehensive data available. We argue that the U.S. continues to be fragmented by racial classification but the current tripartite model of race proposed by race scholars is oversimplified. We use 2001-2003 survey data from the Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Survey (n=20,013) to evaluate (1) the association between role accumulation and psychological distress; (2) the association between type of primary social role (worker, spouse, parent) and psychological distress; and (3) the extent to which the relationship between social role participation and psychological distress differs by race/ethnicity. Analysis of survey data for 7 racial/ethnic groups indicate no association between role accumulation and psychological distress among Afro-Caribbean, Cuban, and Puerto Rican adults while African Americans, Asian Americans, Mexican Americans, and non-Hispanic whites benefit from occupying many social roles. This pattern of findings was further evident in examination of the type of social roles occupied by adults in this sample. That is, for the same set of groups (Afro-Caribbean, Cuban, and Puerto Rican), there were no significant differences between those who were not engaged in any of the primary social roles and those who were involved in all three primary social roles. Results suggest that certain racial/ethnic groups in the U.S. maintain relational practices that inhibit them reaping the full benefits of participating in American society. The groups that appear the most disenfranchised do not fit neatly into the tripartite system described in much contemporary race scholarship.